Rush Limbaugh Is a Fat, Classless, Druggy Prostitute


So Rush Limbaugh said something vile about someone. That’s apparently news, despite the fact that this is how he’s made his living for the last two decades. After all this time, Limbaugh’s behavior is finally costing him his major corporate sponsorships. Why now? Maybe because the regressive behavior of Republicans in office across the country is radicalizing the population in a way that wars and recessions couldn’t.

Maybe.

Or maybe it’s because this time Rush’s target is white (unlike the First Lady), fits our biases on “innocence” (unlike those who want access to birth control for sex), and as a Georgetown law student, exhibits the trappings of socioeconomic success (unlike many crusading for social and political justice).

Of course, it could just be that we were already watching and rooting for Sandra Fluke, so we were poised to move en masse when this happened. It could be the radicalization. It could be…something else.

I wish I could believe that was true, that we’re rising up against Limbaugh’s general behavior and not just because he dared to strike at an unacceptable victim. Sadly, the words of my fellow progressives give me altogether too much doubt on that score.

Rush Is Fat
I don’t know what could possibly be of less relevance to these events. Unless Limbaugh’s second chin (if he has one) has somehow figured out how to operate his mouth independent of his brain, there is not one reason to mention his weight in any discussion that doesn’t involve him commenting on food or obesity issues. Even then, it would only be relevant in so far as it demonstrated hypocrisy or, strange as the idea may be, expertise. And if you want to make the hypocrisy argument, you’d better be prepared to deal with a fair amount of evidence that weight is not an easily tractable issue.

Nonetheless, I cringed every time I saw Limbaugh’s name come up in social media, because all too often reasonable arguments about things he said would have the word “fat” dropped onto them as though it were some sort of seasoning. For the record, I’m not exactly skinny myself. Anyone who says “Rush is fat” as though it means something should probably stop reading me right now, as my arguments are clearly invalid.

Stay Classy, Rush
Oh, if me not being skinny isn’t enough for you, I should perhaps mention that I’m “trailer trash”. I’ve spent about a quarter of my life living in mobile homes. If you don’t have to think about that every time someone mentions that phrase, you’re not likely to understand why telling someone they’re not being “classy” is a problem. So I’ll explain–once.

Rush Limbaugh is not acting like a member of the lower socioeconomic classes. Believe it or not, most poor people don’t jump on their eponymous, three-hour radio program to tell someone who is threatening their political power that she’s a slut. Limbaugh is acting exactly like what he is, a whiny, entitled rich man who is lying because he doesn’t want to have to pay the price for having flaunted his power where people can see him and because he’s always gotten away with it up to this point. That’s the class he is. That’s the class he panders to. Suggesting he suddenly has something in common with the people he’s hurt for twenty-some years because you’ve suddenly noticed his bad behavior is just doing his job for him.

Rush Is an Addict
Did you know Limbaugh has possessed and probably used drugs illegally? Of course you did, but it must be mentioned again because…what he’s done to another human being is somehow worse if his pain management went awry?

Aside from his personal odiousness, Rush Limbaugh ought to be one of those people we talk about when we talk about drug addiction. How do we manage pain? How do we understand addiction in people who aren’t trying to escape their lives? How does wealth and personal resources affect the damage done by drugs, and how should that in turn affect the way we conceptualize addiction legally and socially? Limbaugh is a counter-case for many of our societal narratives of drug abuse, and we should spend some time talking about that.

However, his own drug use has no relevance to a discussion of preventive medicine and his attempts to make it unavailable. Suggesting that it does is an insult to drug addicts.

Who Is the Prostitute, Rush?
Whatever else you want to say about prostitution, it is labor. We do and don’t value it very highly. We value it highly enough to make it pay better than many kinds of labor. We value it poorly enough to hide it away and to deprive those who practice it of the protections that those following a legal trade are granted. Either way, it is an honest trade: sex for money.

What Limbaugh does, and particularly what he did to Fluke, are not honest. Lies and slurs are Limbaugh’s stock in trade and they have been for the entire run of his popularity. The lies he tells are not incidental to his popularity, either. He could not do what he does without them. Nor is there any indication that Limbaugh is selling anything out to trade in those lies. Honesty and kindness are our values, not his, and he has never given us a single indication otherwise. It costs him nothing to support the conservative politics that are his own.

I have an old friend who used to frequent prostitutes back in college. This friend had experienced repeated rape as a teenager. I can’t say that employing prostitutes helped my friend. It would take the benefit of a lot of hindsight to sort the pleasure from the shame and figure that out. I can say that my friend was in a very vulnerable position, and no prostitute did the kind of damage that Rush does on a regular basis. He doesn’t deserve to be called a prostitute either.

So enough with hauling out our own nasty little prejudices to try to tell each other why Limbaugh is bad. Isn’t it about damned time we just call him what he is–a selfish, lying, exploitive creep who makes his living by damaging our country and our democratic processes? Isn’t it enough to do that without having to turn ourselves into pale copies of him and suggest that maybe we agreed with him a little bit all along?

Thanks to Natalie for prompting me to finally write the rant that’s been on my mind for the last several days.

Comments

  1. says

    It is for these reasons that when I posted about Rush, I did not mention his size, drug use past, or class (he’s actual from a fairly upper crust background, if I remember correctly). I did, however, very deliberately take the *second* definition of prostitution and apply it to him, as follows: “To sell oneself, one’s artistic or moral integrity, etc. for low or unworthy purposes or a person who does so.”

  2. says

    Thank for this- I know I’m guilty of most of the things you rightly excoriate. Not that it’s a valid defense, but I will point out that in the heat of my (and others’, I’m sure) anger, my choice of responses has not always been the best. Over the last couple of days, due to comments from you and others on Twitter and elsewhere, I’ve been much more careful to focus on Rush’s actual character flaws and reprehensible behavior than just trying to smear and be hurtful. That’s what he does, and it’s not worthy of emulation. Again, thanks.

  3. says

    One teensy bone to pick with what is otherwise a spot-on encapsulation of the horror I have experienced in listening to slavering hordes go after Limbaugh.

    There may be a shoehorned-in relevance that comes with bringing up Rush’s addiction. Mr. Limbaugh is basing his argument on a foundation of “personal responsibility”, which is the right-wing code word for “acting like a privileged white man”. Insofar as drug addiction is often used as an example of the way in which many groups (particularly dark-skinned and low-SES ones) lack a sense of “personal responsibility”.

    Rush’s drug addiction demonstrates that either a) drug addiction is not due to a lack of personal responsibility, but rather a multitude of factors both personal and environmental; or that b) Rush Limbaugh himself suffers from a deficit in the very same trait that he chastises others for failing to demonstrate. Either option illustrates his hypocrisy (as though it wasn’t already well-established).

    If (and only if) the criticisms that invoke his history with addiction are used as a method of highlighting how hypocritical it is for him to make this argument, then it is a valid point. If it’s just “Rush Limbaugh is a shitty guy because he was addicted to drugs”, then it’s definitely not okay.

  4. says

    Crommunist, I haven’t seen it used with that much of a point behind it, but I’m certainly willing to consider that some people may have used it that way.

    Emily, I know that definition exists and, given that it exists, understand why some people would use it. That usage still has implications for how we think about prostitutes and sex in general that we should be careful of.

    Lockwood, this is one of the reasons I like you.

  5. says

    I’m fat, live below the poverty level, have had (still have the tobacco problem) very significant – debilitating substance abuse problems and…well, I’m not going to go into the other, but…

    I’m not a bad person for all that. Not a great person by any stretch, I have problems and often feel I’m barely treading water as a parent. But I believe absolutely in the right of people to be who they are – except where being who they are interferes with the rights of others to be who they are. And I genuinely care about other humans and want to see others flourish – all others. I want all of us to be the very best people we can be and have the very best quality of life that is sustainable.

    Being any of these things people try to denigrate Rush for being is just another label that happens to apply and says little about what else they are. None of those things make people inherently bad. It is who we are beyond our mental illnesses and professions that is important – though some professions are inherently bad in themselves.

    And for the record, having sex for a living isn’t inherently worse than any other profession, thank you very much.

  6. Phledge says

    YES. THIS. THANK YOU. I have been putting out “ally” fires on Twitter all day and I’m exhausted. It helps to know that there are people like you doing this from a way bigger platform. Don’t get me wrong–Rush Limbaugh is a steaming pile of horseshit that deserves to have all of his political and financial support withdrawn in a hot minute. But it is not for his illness (addiction) nor his body habitus. And every time I see someone go off about this “fat pill-popping bitch” I think of a line from a Shel Silverstein poem: “Some kind of help’s/the kind of help/we all could do without.”

  7. eric says

    If the forces of evil ever demand you apologize for this post, remeber Rush also has a lesson about that: apologize for your word choice, but not your substance.

  8. Alverant says

    I’m with Crommunist. Rush talks about “personal responsibility” and rants against the ACLU. Then when his own addiction is revealed he avoids taking personal responsibility and runs to the ACLU for help (which they gave because they have integrity). Reminding people of his drug addicition reminds people that often Rush doesn’t know what he’s talking about and he does not practice what he preaches. It’s an issue of credibility IMHO.

    On a personal level, I do avoid calling anyone fat because it has little to do with what they’re saying. As for prostitute, I don’t use it often, but I understand (given the other meanings of it) why some would. For instance if it’s OK for Rush to call a woman a prostitute, then it’s OK to do the same to him. I think “sell out” would be a better word but doesn’t have the sting as “prostitute”.

    I am tempted to call him a pedo though. He got caught returning from the Dominican Republic, a known hot spot in the child sex slave world, with a disguised bottle of Viagra. OK, it’s not much evidence to hang the proverbial hat on, but it’s more that what he uses to justify most of his name calling so if it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander.

  9. Dalillama says

    In relation to Rush’s drug problem, another reason I often see it brought up is that Rush specifically excoriates drug users in his rants about personal responsibility. There’s also the fact that he’s known to have used illegally acquired Viagra, which adds a whole other level of hypocritical misogyny to his recent comments. On and unrelated note, thank you for you defence of the profession of prostitution; I have had people very close to me on the other end of your friend’s equation, and they’ve certainly done some good and no detectable harm.

  10. Jodi says

    Oh, fucking BRILLIANT! I love this, where can I give it 10 little gold stars?
    I haven’t had time to read much today but I’m so glad I chose to read this! (Also, as an aside, bravo for your title choice, there were hundreds of things I could have stopped to read as I scrolled through 10 hours of tweets but it was this that made me stop and read :) )

  11. says

    TO be fair, Hilary Clinton is a privileged white lady to, and he laid into her plenty. I think a lot of the issue here is picking on a non-celebrity, which is seen as not very sporting.

  12. says

    I’ve used the term “trailer trash” in the past, and very recently in fact. I have usually had a specific set of people in mind generally when I do that — narrow-minded, uneducated, racist and otherwise prejudiced folks who would as soon beat a person for being different as look at them. The baggage that it came out of a classist argument that poor people who live in trailers (I practically live in one myself) are poor and live in trailers because they’re immoral and unworthy people may not have totally been absorbed with the term itself in my mind. Nonetheless, this doesn’t excuse my using it. I’m going to make an effort to stop using it. Surely I can come up with better descriptives for the provincial and bigoted than this, if I’m going to get someone caught in the crossfire.

  13. says

    I tried to be careful about that, as I think prostitutes are in a career that should be supported and made safe for them and their clients. I’d rather refer to them as “sex workers” and confine the “prostituting” meaning to selling oneself out in less tangible ways, but I guess I don’t get to dictate that.

  14. says

    Emily –

    As an advocate for neurodiversity and someone who has been directly affected by stigmas – and who has kids who are hurt by those stigmas, I am horrified to admit that “fucktarded moron” still occasionally pops out of my mouth. If that were the only thing I would be somewhat mollified. Alas it is not. But it is complicated – both because actually changing the language we use requires us to effectively rewire our brain in some way and because it is hard to consider every damned thing you ever say in this fashion.

  15. julian says

    The prostitute one really irritates me for many of the reasons you point out. Prostitution is an honest trade. Sex in exchange for money. It can become anything but (often with the prostitute being abused by their pimp or becoming a sex slave) these generally don’t reflect a weakness of character in the prostitute.

    Rush Limbaugh is a dishonest, cowardly hypocrite, racist and misogynist. He isn’t a prostitute.

  16. says

    Seconding Crommunist and Alverant. Thing thing I’ve seen used against Rush most often in this round of the fight is the Dominican hookers things, which, even ignoring the child sex trafficing angle, would be another pretty blatant illustration of hypocrisy.

  17. Cara says

    I half-agree and half-disagree with this. “Classy” is one of those words that has an unsavory etymology but really is its own word now, especially in the idiom “stay classy:” what other phrase would convey the same meaning? It means something stronger than “be polite,” more like “act with decorum,” but that’s so formal it’s not a real replacement. I also think that Limbaugh’s hypocrisy about addiction is a fair target, though maybe not in these circumstances, and his use of Viagra is definitely a fair target.

  18. says

    While I second everything you have said here, I am continually bothered by one thing in most of these conversations.

    Yes Rush had no place to comment on the sex life of someone he doesn’t know (or really even people he does know),but the overwhelming response is to distance Fluke from slut-hood as if being a slut is a bad thing.

    I am tired of us sluts being perceived as immoral.

    Sex.is.not.wrong.

    So yes call Rush on his lies or erroneous assumptions, but fuck people tell him while you are at it that sluts aren’t icky. Enjoying sex is normal.

    Because every time we simply criticize Rush only about lying, we are telling him that his views on sluts have merit. We are telling the world that slut is a thing you don’t want to be. Would the back lash had happened if the lie was a complimentary one? No. The back-lash happened because in this society, at this time, it is still wrong for women to enjoy sex.

    Fix that first and we fix this whole problem.

  19. says

    I have seen it some in mine as well. I am just seeing so much that gives the impression that being a slut is wrong.

    Makes me tired.

  20. Godless Heathen says

    Yeah, I’m still seeing some liberals use the non-sex-related-health-issues defense of the pill.

    As someone who’s taken the pill for non-sex-related-health-reasons, I have to say: stop it. The people who are anti-birth-control are anti-women having control over their sex lives and when and if they have babies. By arguing that the pill isn’t always used for contraception, we are subtly conceding the myth that women having sex on their own terms without worrying about pregnancy is bad.

    It’s not.

  21. says

    @Goddless Heathen I did a post on that shortly after I first saw Fluke’s testimony. I immediately recognized her argument as throwing sluts under the bus so she could make a winnable argument. I tried to suggest a winnable argument that didn’t marginalize the majority of women who use birth control. Not sure if I managed it but I tried.

    That is not to say that I don’t think what Fluke said was wrong, I just think she could have done better.

  22. Leni says

    I’m probably a horrible person.

    Ok, I am a horrible person.

    But this is a man who made a career out of shaming other people for whatever reason, no matter how petty that he could find.

    He called Chelsea Clinton a dog, ffs. And that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg of foul crap that has come out of that man’s mouth.

    And suddenly we are off-limits because calling him fat somehow isn’t a commentary about his hypocrisy?

    Are you people out of your fucking minds?

    *Sigh* I know that was hyperbolic and inflammatory, but seriously. The man has no low bar. He’s committed every act of hypocrisy available and so the whole “But we should really just confine it to the drug and/or maybe prostitute thing” rings a little hollow with me.

    Let him reap the rewards of living in a culture in which it’s ok to belittle people for their looks and condemn them for drug addiction.

    He just entered the world he helped create and I just feel like saying “Welcome home, Rush!”

    And then pushing him in the bottomless pit like that dude in 300.

  23. Leni says

    Except they (mostly) didn’t.

    What he did was bully and lie and pretend he was exempt from the “rules” he made but happily applied to others.

  24. Leni says

    I’m sorry for carrying on with this awful analogy, but the man would have happily pushed anyone in that hole without even blinking.

    Without even questioning why he might get thrown in too. By the same standards. It’s his hole. Let him inspect the bottom.

  25. Emburii says

    Leni – then call him dishonest and hypocritical. Call him callous, or even vile. I wouldn’t look askance at anyone who said rhey wish he died, for instance. But ‘fat’ has nothing to do with it. His addict past/present has nothing to do with how he attacked Sandra Fluke. His class is only relevant in that he has too much of a particular class of behavior and prejudice, not that he is ‘classless’. No one is saying we shouldn’t address him for his flaws; instead, the lady Zvan is rightly pointing out that we should be making sure we’re using the right facts against him rather than throwing personal prejudice around.

  26. says

    I cringed when I saw the title of this post on my blogroll, so I was somewhat relieved to see that you weren’t actually jumping on that particular bandwagon. I should have known better, really.

  27. says

    Leni –

    You know I love you, at least I hope you do but…

    And suddenly we are off-limits because calling him fat somehow isn’t a commentary about his hypocrisy?

    And what would calling *me* fat be a commentary on? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sensitive about being fat. But I am acutely aware of just how difficult it is, now that I am, to get rid of it and how hard it will be to keep it off if I can manage the time to do what I must to get rid of it.

    Let him reap the rewards of living in a culture in which it’s ok to belittle people for their looks and condemn them for drug addiction.

    No. First and foremost, slamming him for the bullshit that he likes to spew perpetuates the stigmas related to sexuality, substance abuse and appearance. I am bent on fighting stigmas, not perpetuating them. Besides which, Limbaugh could care less what you might call him. He’s worth many millions – all made by slamming people like you and me. If we play his game then, well, we’re playing *his* game – supporting his paradigm. He *wants* us to call him names, because then he can talk about what an impact he’s having on the real world.

    What works well, is hitting him where it will actually hurt him – such as his sponsors. I think it odd that this particular statement was the one that did it, but he’s lost eleven sponsors. That’s a big fucking deal. What’s best about it, is that it is something that he can’t really rant about either. Going off on sponsors he’s lost over this would endanger relations with sponsors he still has and would likely be a breach of contract.

  28. jamessweet says

    I’ll defend a little bit the “stay classy” comment, because I think a different definition of “class” is implied, i.e. definition 3c from this link.

    I’m guessing your argument is that that usage of “class” is inherently, um, classist. Which is fair enough, and although that’s a point that had not occurred to me before, I think I might just agree with you (and will rethink using the word “class” in that way in the future). But I don’t think that telling Rush to “stay classy” has the explicit connotations you refer to, though it may have undesirable implicit connotations.

  29. says

    @DuWayne I completely understand. I’m also a neurodiversity advocate, yet I find myself saying “idiot” all the time, still…it’s just such a satisfying series of consonants…and I struggle to incorporate neurodifferences like narcissistic personality disorder into my capacity for advocacy. Facing these things isn’t easy if you’re doing it honestly and right, in my experience.

  30. AMM says

    This may be something of a tangent, but:

    When I and the people I know use words like “moron” or “idiot,” we mean by it someone doing something stupid that they _know_ (or should know) is stupid, especially if they seem to be putting a lot of effort into ignoring the sensible thing to do. (Cf. notalwaysright.com) I haven’t heard it used of someone who actually has cognitive impairments except as a form of abuse (along with all the other popular words of abuse.) By the time I was born, “idiot” and “moron” were no longer in use for such people, having been replaced by the phrase “mentally retarded” (which is why I do wince when I hear someone referred to as a “retard.”)

    I’m prepared to believe that “idiot” and “moron” and the like may reinforce prejudice against people who really do have cognitive impairments, and I do not want to do that, but I haven’t found good words to replace them for what I use them for.

    Any suggestions?

  31. bahrfeldt says

    The “Fat” routine is, imho, fair game for Rush. He (was) made a big f’n deal on the msm when he lost mucho weight by hiring a chef to feed him healthy meals. Despite his constant bull concerning the lack of personal responsibility for their own actions by sundry people he was paid to debase. When confronted with this argument, his backers (at work) responded with “What about Oprah, she hired a chef for the same reason” (not an actual quote I remember), deliberately missing the point. Well, the hypocrite is obese again. No more chef? No more Manhattan penthouse. Money troubles due to other bad habits? ??

  32. says

    Thanks, bahrfeldt. I really appreciate being told I’m a bad person because I have “bad habits” and lack “personal responsibility” by someone who doesn’t know me at all.

    Now, fuck off.

  33. says

    Seriously, fuck no, bahrfeldt. He’s a hypocrite in myriad other ways — if he’s ever said anything about all overweight people having bad habits and no personal responsibility, that’s one thing. The fact that he is overweight says absolutely zero about either his habits or his level of responsibility.

    But his actions speak volumes. So why must you go with the weakest of all possible arguments? Especially where you’re catching other, good, responsible and conscientious people with the splash, telling THEM that THEY’RE bad for circumstances beyond their control?

  34. says

    I agree with Stephanie, especially on the “Rush is fat” issue. Mocking Limbaugh for his weight, and thus saying by implication that “fat” is something wrong and bad and shameful, reinforces the existing culture of body-shaming and stigma – and that culture has led to an epidemic of eating disorders in our society, among other bad things. It’s time to stop shaming and blaming people for their weight.

    I can’t stand Limbaugh, and, by all means, let’s call him out for his appalling sexism, racism and bullying tactics. But I don’t think any of us want to descend to his level of discourse. Insulting Limbaugh for his weight is harmful – not to Limbaugh himself, but to our society as a whole, and to all those who face stigma and shaming because their body doesn’t fit someone else’s arbitrary media-constructed conception of “beauty”.

  35. becca says

    I have mixed feelings about this.

    Full disclaimer: I know it’s wrong of me, and it wouldn’t mean much in a misogyny free society, but sometimes I find it refreshing when somebody calls a d00d a bitch (or a cunt/whore/slut).

    I would certainly agree that using those words as in insult tells us a lot more about the person who wants to insult him than it does about Limbaugh.
    But I’m not sure there is not a small amount of good done in readjusting the associations people have by putting words like “druggy prostitute” with “Limbaugh”. Because my first response is something like “HA! never thought of him like that… but why not?” And that’s not entirely a bad kind of thought to trigger. It can prompt reflection on who we call what names, and why.

    Also, for reference google autocomplete tells me “Rush Limbaugh is…
    … a big fat idiot”
    … gay”
    … a liar”
    … racist”
    Not sure what that says about Rush, but it says something about how people think to insult someone.

  36. says

    Stephanie, “civilized” has a lot of baggage, too, especially but not strictly the racial kind. You know, “civilized,” unlike those “primitives” who should be grateful for white people bringing them “progress.”

    I grew up working-class, will probably never be solidly middle-class, and I’m not bothered by the word “classy.” My two cents, anyway.

    Bahrfeldt, kiss my big fat hard-working ass, you dribbling used bag of douche.

    Emily, I strongly dispute that NPD, APD, or sociopathy should be under any sort of umbrella that protects “neurodifferences.” That is harmful as fuck to people who deal with the narcissist in question, as the recent Hugo Schwyzer affair revealed. (And I’m not armchair-diagnosing him; he’s been open about that diagnosis.) Women, especially, get pressured not to be “ableist” toward destructive assholes, because women are supposed to be “nice” and self-sacrificing. As someone with close friends who have been raped, beaten, mindfucked, and otherwise hurt by sociopaths… fuck that noise.

    And, quite frankly, the whole idea that words like “stupid” or “idiot” should be off-limits displays a stunning lack of understanding of how language works. “Retard” is one thing, but few people even knew that “idiot,” “imbecile,” or “moron” had clinical meanings until certain activists decided to make an issue of it a few years ago.

    As for “neurodiversity,” speaking as someone who actually has autism in my family and has seen how much suffering it causes, people who blithely claim that all forms of it are just “diversity” and shouldn’t be cured or treated at all have no fucking idea what they’re talking about. And I’ll stand behind that.

  37. says

    As for “neurodiversity,” speaking as someone who actually has autism in my family and has seen how much suffering it causes, people who blithely claim that all forms of it are just “diversity” and shouldn’t be cured or treated at all have no fucking idea what they’re talking about. And I’ll stand behind that.

    I didn’t see anyone here claiming that at all. Nor does neurodiversity only refer to people somewhere in the autism spectrum. For my own part, my mental illness and that of my children is something else entirely.

    And I have worked with a couple of kids who are autistic, both closer to the “non-functioning” end, than the middle. I was a music teacher for both and the work that I did with them was part of their treatment. I don’t know anyone who thinks that *anyone* with any level of autism should be left untreated. Everyone I know wants people with autism to have the very best life possible and for all but the most functional, that requires some form of treatment.

    For that matter, I am being treated for my own mental illness as are my boys. Neurodiversity isn’t about leaving mental illness unchecked, it’s about finding a balance between functionality and the positive aspects of having a brain that works rather differently than most others. And it is especially about fighting the stigmas attached to mental illness. IT is also about changing the way that we think about mental illness, some people even objecting to the label of “illness.”

    I am aware that there are people who take very extreme views on neurodiversity. That doesn’t mean that is the whole of the movement. For most of us, it is mostly about trying to get our society to meet us half way – accepting that we need to change ourselves, but also believing that to take the fullest advantage of what we have to offer, society needs to bend too. The biggest hurdle I am trying to get past, is that of the very ugly and damaging stigmas that have hurt me and which actively hurt my children and others I care about.

  38. says

    Daisy, I do appreciate the baggage of “civilized” as a dog whistle. However, it’s worth noting that a word or phrase can’t actually be a dog whistle unless it has a reasonable meaning for people using it to hide behind. “Articulate”, for example, is a very good thing to be. So is “civilized”, though we may argue over exactly what constitutes “civilized” behavior. “Classy”, on the other hand, actively props up a system in which net economic worth is conflated with worth as a human being. That is always a problem.

    I appreciate that a lot of people, not just you, don’t see that distinction. We’re very much trained not to look at class–particularly if we don’t have a high degree of it. But I know you know that whether it bothers you personally is a very poor measure of what kind of broad societal impact it has.

  39. says

    DuWayne:

    I don’t know anyone who thinks that *anyone* with any level of autism should be left untreated.

    Really? Because I’ve seen those claims made on various “neurodiversity” blogs, and often with a great deal of vitriol toward parents who seem to be doing their best to cope, often with minimal support. (Given that caregivers in general are disproportionately women and disproportionately poor, the hatefulness of some disability activists toward them is an amazing fail of intersectionality. But I digress.)

    I’m not fond of stigma, either. That said, I’m even less fond of the pretense that debilitating medical conditions are just “ways of being,” I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety most of my life, and I can tell you that even with no stigma whatsoever, they’d suck like a vacuum cleaner in a black hole.

    To take the example of ASD, if a person has Asperger’s and can get by with some reasonable modifications in the workplace and home, cool. There’s no need to isolate and stigmatize people who are “different” simply because they make others uncomfortable. If a person has a degree of autism that creates pain or discomfort — e.g., the sort that leads them to scream night after night for years on end as a child — that’s not just “a different way of being.”

  40. says

    DuWayne:

    And what would calling *me* fat be a commentary on?

    Nothing, because you don’t make it a habit to viciously attack people for being overweight or unattractive even when they aren’t.

    Look, I don’t love Oprah. But I do get angry when people call her fat because in her case it really isn’t relevant, it’s just mean and stupid. She doesn’t go around ridiculing others for it and she’s done a lot to raise public awareness. She doesn’t deserve it, Rush does.

    No. First and foremost, slamming him for the bullshit that he likes to spew perpetuates the stigmas related to sexuality, substance abuse and appearance. I am bent on fighting stigmas, not perpetuating them. Besides which, Limbaugh could care less what you might call him. He’s worth many millions – all made by slamming people like you and me. If we play his game then, well, we’re playing *his* game – supporting his paradigm. He *wants* us to call him names, because then he can talk about what an impact he’s having on the real world.

    I get what you (and the others) are saying. And if he was making a cogent argument about something unrelated and people busted out with “he’s just a fat druggie” I’d be right there with you.

    But it is in direct response to him NOT making cogent arguments, but instead leveling nasty personal attacks for the sole purpose of publicly ridiculing people who have done nothing to deserve it. And who frequently happen to be female, as it turns out.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there’s Rush being everything (and more) than what he shames women for.

    Nuh-uh. It don’t work like that. While it would be inappropriate to say those things in almost any other circumstance for any other reason, I just don’t agree that in is in this case.

    What works well, is hitting him where it will actually hurt him – such as his sponsors. I think it odd that this particular statement was the one that did it, but he’s lost eleven sponsors. That’s a big fucking deal. What’s best about it, is that it is something that he can’t really rant about either. Going off on sponsors he’s lost over this would endanger relations with sponsors he still has and would likely be a breach of contract.

    Oh I agree. But I’m also ok with a multi-faceted approach. And last night I heard it was up to 12 sponsors and 2 stations that dropped him entirely.

  41. says

    Leni, I don’t care whether you’re incapable of understanding that what you say hurts other people, including me, or just don’t care. You may also fuck off, posthaste.

  42. says

    Emburii:

    Leni – then call him dishonest and hypocritical. Call him callous, or even vile. I wouldn’t look askance at anyone who said rhey wish he died, for instance.

    Pointing out that Rush is in no position to be criticizing other people’s looks *is* pointing out that he’s a hypocrite.

    But ‘fat’ has nothing to do with it.

    Yes, it does. Pointing out that he is what he attacks *is* relevant because *that* is what makes him a hypocrite. This isn’t just some overweight guy who happened to say something stupid once.

    This is a man with a pattern of publicly ridiculing (mostly) women for their looks and weight, and now for using birth control.

    I’m sorry, but I actually think we’d be remiss not to point that out that he’s no better on any of these counts.

    Remember what he said about Michele Obama?

    “The problem is, and dare I say this, it doesn’t look like Michelle Obama follows her own nutritionary, dietary advice…I’m trying to say that our First Lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue or of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months or what have you.”

    Notice how he shamed her for not being a swimsuit model as opposed to being overweight.

    Yeah. He’s actually slamming her for not looking like a model. Would he be less wrong if he said this while looking like an Adonis? No.

    Has he opened a door to getting called even worse considering the man isn’t half as fit as Michele Obama? Yeah I kinda think so.

    His addict past/present has nothing to do with how he attacked Sandra Fluke.

    Prescription drug addict calls a woman a slut for arguing that birth control should be paid for the same way his own drugs were (at least at first)?

    See, that seems relevant to the general theme of “Rush is a hypocrite”. He’s a hypocrite because he had no problem using insurance to support his drug habit. (Again, at first.)

    And also because “drug addict shames slut” just sounds like an Onion article headline.

    His class is only relevant in that he has too much of a particular class of behavior and prejudice, not that he is ‘classless’.

    You may have a point about that one. I feel similarly about it as jamessweet describes in his post above.

  43. says

    No, leni. Playing his game, his way, legitimizes his game. He is an odious troll in any number of ways, but not for any of the reasons listed in the original post. Your arguing so is hideous.

  44. says

    Pointing out that Rush is in no position to be criticizing other people’s looks *is* pointing out that he’s a hypocrite.

    Pointing out his hypocrisy by doing the very thing you’re supposedly against sounds hypocritical. If you really think he shouldn’t be calling people fat, then it’s just special pleading to argue that you should be permitted to call people fat just because you’re doing it to make a point. No matter what your reason is for doing it, you’re still going to be hurting my feelings and making me feel ashamed and unwelcome for being fat as well.

  45. AMM says

    leni @48:

    Pointing out that Rush is in no position to be criticizing other people’s looks *is* pointing out that he’s a hypocrite.

    Then you need to point out the hypocrisy. If you call him “fat”, you’re just saying he’s bad because he’s fat, irrespective of what he says.

    I think it would be reasonable to say something like, “for a guy who is himself fat to be calling other people moral degenerates [or whatever he says] for being fat takes a lot of gall.”

    Or, if you have to do name-calling, try “hypocrit.”

  46. says

    Really? Because I’ve seen those claims made on various “neurodiversity” blogs, and often with a great deal of vitriol toward parents who seem to be doing their best to cope, often with minimal support.

    I didn’t say they don’t exist and even acknowledged they do. I don’t happen to know any – as in real world people I deal with on a regular basis. Being mentally ill and having mentally ill children, I associate with a lot of advocates of neurodiversity offline. Not a one of them fits that group.

    I would note, just for fairness towards people who feel that way, that many of them experienced a great deal of abuse – much of it in the name of “treatment.” I disagree very strenuously with them, absolutely and without question. But they generally have very good reasons for feeling the way that they do. They aren’t bad people. Mostly they have just endured a lot of suffering.

    That said, I’m even less fond of the pretense that debilitating medical conditions are just “ways of being…”

    I started wanting to die when I was nine years old. I could manage tremendously excellent grades on tests – when I bothered, but couldn’t functionally manage to do homework because there were too many other things to do – mostly in my head. I dropped out of high school at 16, was hitchhiking around the U.S. and Mexico not too much after. I started engaging in substance abuse at 17 (I came from a completely “dry” household – no one did *anything* that was mindaltering). From late 16y, until I was twenty one I was effectively homeless. I actually settled in Lansing, MI when I was almost nineteen and had a band – all I did was play music, do drugs and fuck. During my time hitching I also managed to do a gigolo thing, played music, did some acting, co-wrote a couple of plays and did performance poetry – doing several gigs on st. Louis public radio in the mix. Failed utterly at actually deriving a career in modeling or acting because I was also fucked up all the time.

    I reproduced and made major changes to my life – though my feelings on being dead were largely made up of some small resentment towards my oldest, because he was a significant motivator for not dying. As I built a career it was constantly hampered by my complete inability to function as a normal adult. At the height of it, I was working on multi-million dollar homes in Portland, OR. Other craftsmen with my abilities often make better than a hundred k a year – some three times that much. Ultimately I failed utterly and managed to lose the roof over my family.

    Even today – right now, I am occasionally wrought with resentment at being an only parent, because it means I *can’t* die and sometimes wish I could. I am in a daily fucking struggle to balance functionality and the positive aspects of how my mind works. On top of that, I have to struggle with the mental illness of my eldest and help him do the same – as well as just beginning to pay attention to the problems of my youngest. I spend a lot of time and energy trying to make the best of what my children have to work with.

    And you know something – it is a different fucking way of being, fuck you very much. Some people suffer for it more than others. I’m not suggesting they should. What I am saying is that we need to be aware of the positive aspects of who they are and do the best we can to help them thrive. A lot of people would find living with my brain – as it is now, absolutely horrifying – I do myself sometimes. Others – myself included, might be willing to accept some horror for the benefits.

    As for how much it really sucks to have to deal with people who have serious problems – we need to do better by them as caregivers – both by relieving them of their responsibilities sometimes and by helping the people they care for be more functional. But we always need to be mindful of the person with special needs as well.

  47. says

    As others have mentioned Leni – just point out that he’s a fucking hypocrite. That’s something that a person should be ashamed of.

  48. says

    AMM

    I think it would be reasonable to say something like, “for a guy who is himself fat to be calling other people moral degenerates [or whatever he says] for being fat takes a lot of gall.”

    Well, yes. I agree. That’s kinda the whole point of calling the man who ridiculed Michelle Obama for not being a Sports Illustrated Model “fat”.

    ***

    Erulóra Maikalambe:

    No matter what your reason is for doing it, you’re still going to be hurting my feelings and making me feel ashamed and unwelcome for being fat as well.

    You seem like a nice person and I would never want to insult you. But we aren’t talking about you. Or any other overweight person.

    We are talking about a particular man who is overweight, who likes to publicly, on a national platform, ridicule women who aren’t even overweight. Or ugly. Or sluts.

    And more specifically, we are talking about a man who thinks these standards, however offensive they are, don’t apply to him.

    Yes, he is a hypocrite and I’m happy to say and hear it. But he’s a hypocrite because he’s a fat, drug addict whore.

    That has absolutely nothing to do with you or any one else.

    So when you make it about you, you’re kind of implying I should just forget the double standard. Nuh-uh. Not. Going. To. Happen.

    DuWayne:

    As others have mentioned Leni – just point out that he’s a fucking hypocrite.

    Yes, but one reason he’s a hypocrite is because he is himself, overweight and ridicules overweight people. That’s what justifies calling him a hypocrite.

    If I wanted to just call him an asshole I would. But then I would be leaving out the whole thing about WHY he’s an asshole.

  49. says

    DuWayne, I’ll be blunt: Any “way of being” that makes you want to die from the age of nine onward, and leads to or at least is a factor in the sort of adult dysfunctions you describe, is not a desirable one. Why should you have suffered in that manner? Why should anybody suffer in that manner?

    Could society have accommodated you better? Undoubtedly. But your comment at #52 doesn’t mention or even hint at abuse from your parents, teachers, or other adults. It doesn’t even imply that you were unhappy because you didn’t “fit in.” It implies that your torment was internally generated.

    And why is your assumption that, without the autism, you would not have the “positive aspects,” by which I assume you mean intellectual gifts? A pervasive developmental disorder is not the same as a mood disorder, but, 20 years ago, I starting hearing the same claims for bipolar disorder: that it brought certain “gifts of creativity.” Yeah, I don’t know… I’ve met a lot of people with manic depression, as it was then still called, and I saw a hell of a lot more devastation than I did creativity. Educations derailed, careers destroyed, marriages dissolved, children estranged. I’ve also met (and currently know) a lot of creative people, and for the most part they did not and do not fit the stereotype of the “mad artist.”

  50. says

    Erulóra Maikalambe:

    If you really think he shouldn’t be calling people fat, then it’s just special pleading to argue that you should be permitted to call people fat just because you’re doing it to make a point.

    I think you have a good point here and I think I gave you short shrift in the last post.

    But here’s the deal.

    His comments didn’t happen in a vacuum. There is context. You don’t like the context? Fine. We disagree. I think it’s special pleading to argue that we should withhold pointing out why he is a hypocrite because it might hurt your feelings, even though you have exactly nothing to do with it.

    When I say the man is a hypocrite, it’s because he is fatter, uglier, and (probably) a bigger whore (plus a prescription drug addict who wants to deny other people medical benefits for an even more paltry reason) than the people he criticizes. So no. It’s not really special pleading. It’s pointing out the obvious.

  51. Spartan says

    leni@54&@56,

    Exactly. I disagree with Jason above; I don’t think you are ‘playing and legitimizing his game’, you seem to me to be turning the mirror around and holding Rush to his own vile ‘standards’, and pointing out how ridiculous they are. As you said, context.

    I entirely agree with those arguing that it’s wrong that in our society people are shamed by being referred to as ‘fat’ because they don’t meet some standard of beauty or whatever. But there’s also a health aspect to being overweight. Someone referred to the epidemic of eating disorders above, which is of course coinciding in the US with an (even greater?) epidemic of obesity. If you’re overweight it doesn’t mean you have no self control or that you have bad habits or that you are a bad person or that you’re not attractive, although there are lots of people who do think and express that idea, but it’s not the fashion industry that’s pointing out that people who are not models should try to manage their weight, it’s doctors. And personal responsibility can legitimately come into play with health issues, which is again why it’s hypocritical of Rush to be pointing out what he views as other’s lack of responsibility.

  52. says

    Anyone who wants to justify their derogatory comments about Limbaugh’s weight here: What kind of an asshole do you have to be to sit down and explain how it’s all totally legitimate to do in the face of people who are telling you that it injures them? Seriously, are you so steeped in fat-shaming culture that you can’t hear that or that you simply dismiss “those people’s” concerns as irrelevant? Do you think you’re some kind of magical being that reinforcing derogatory language somehow isn’t harmful when you do it?

    No, you don’t get to play the health or personal responsibility cards either. The body of scientific literature the exists on weight and health is complicated, but none of it shows that adding to the stigma of fat helps in the least. Unless you’re an epidemiologist or other researcher who specializes in this topic, drop the pseudo-scientific explanations on a topic you don’t actually understand. Hanging onto them makes you one of those people who goes around saying IQ tests show more men are geniuses than women (they don’t).

  53. Spartan says

    Jesus, I wish you’d just point out which posts you will brook no disagreement.

    What kind of an asshole do you have to be to sit down and explain how it’s all totally legitimate to do in the face of people who are telling you that it injures them?

    It’s amazing how it’s all about intent and nuance and people’s immaturity when you refer to Dawkins as ‘Dick’, but then it’s all about what you hear in other circumstances. Who said it was ‘totally legitimate’, I understand your point, it’d be nice if you could drop the false dichotomies. And my god, you’re going to discuss supposedly ‘derogatory’ language by telling people who dare to disagree with your subjective language interpretations by telling them to ‘fuck off'; no no, that’s not injurious at all, but as it is with a lot of these language wars (‘classy means what I says it does’), it seems to all too often be about whose ox is being gored.

    The body of scientific literature the exists on weight and health is complicated, but none of it shows that adding to the stigma of fat helps in the least. Unless you’re an epidemiologist or other researcher who specializes in this topic, drop the pseudo-scientific explanations on a topic you don’t actually understand.

    And if I or leni did understand them, what have either of us said that is incorrect, and what scientific literature do you have to support it? There’s an argument to be made that taken in this specific context, referring to Rush as ‘fat’ doesn’t legitimately add to the stigma. Maybe you don’t care if it’s legitimate or illegitimate, that’s fine, and your subjective position. But I’ll save you the response and just fuck right off your blog also, there’s no point trying to argue with a sermon.

  54. says

    Actually, Spartan, there’s been a good bit of disagreement on this post. I’ve even agreed with some of it. So maybe it has something to do with your specific behavior after all. No one has challenged the idea that “classy” derives from the existence of social classes and valuing some over others, so, no, it’s not about what I hear. But feel free to make an argument that this isn’t actually what “classy” means.

    Really, there’s some kind of argument to be made that using “fat” as a slur and claiming that it’s acceptable as a slur does not add to the stigma surrounding people who are fat? This works by…that good old magical intent?

    If you want to make a point about personal responsibility, deal with the scientific literature that demonstrates dismal long-term results for any kind of weight-loss program and explain how a concept of “personal responsibility” that next to no one can meet is in any way useful. Alternately, deal responsibly with the fact that you’re being an asshole instead of turning around and attacking the person you were already attacking when they tell you to knock it off.

  55. says

    Also, did you really just call fat people who are upset over hearing someone else called fat as a slur “immature”? Tell me you didn’t really just do that.

  56. Spartan says

    I apologize Stephanie, you are an outstanding blogger and the last thing I want to do is hurt yours or anybody’s feelings. With your permission, I would like to postpone my promised fucking off, and respond to a couple of your points later when I’m not swamped with work; if you’d rather I not, that’s understandable and entirely cool.

    It pissed me off to see Leni responded to in the way she has been, I’ve read many of her intelligent comments before and she is neither troll nor idiotic. If I can ask for one clarification, you have referred to my ‘behavior’ and ‘being an asshole’. I’ve left two comments here prior to this one, and honestly it would help me if you could quote where I was being an asshole (preferably from @57, I grant that I was over-the-top @60). Even if I don’t agree, I won’t dispute it. I ask because all I see leni and myself mainly doing is disagreeing with you; neither of us has said, yes, it’s totally cool to refer to people as fat to cut them down or shame them, I thought we were both using it to explain why Rush is a hypocrite, although I do acknowledge that you don’t believe that comparison is apt.

  57. says

    Spartan, I’m more than happy to have you stick around.

    As for the behavior in question, this isn’t an academic discussion about the definition of a word and whether it can be applied to a particular individual. “Fat” is a slur. Fat shaming is real. That’s why Limbaugh uses it. He doesn’t use words because they accurately apply to someone; that’s half of what the uproar over his treatment of Fluke is. He attaches “bad” words to people he doesn’t like, regardless of whether they’re true, because it works. “Bad” word = “bad” people. The whole point of Limbaugh’s behavior is to hurt people. It works.

    You have people in this discussion who have been hurt by fat shaming, both by the verbal act and more generally by the attitudes held in our society. We’re talking things like being paid less and not having their doctors take their problems seriously because bad health is just “expected” for fat people. They’ve told you they’re part of this group, which isn’t necessarily easy. That’s kind of the purpose of shaming.

    If you then try to have a discussion of whether it’s okay to call someone else a “bad” person by attaching this “bad” word to that person–and you dismiss or elide consideration of how using this “bad” word affects the other people in the conversation with you–you’re acting like an asshole. You’re not just dismissing the impact of your actions on others in a general sense. You’re also dismissing the people in the conversation with you, and “Oh, I didn’t mean you” never, ever cuts it for that.

  58. says

    Wow. People continue apace with pointing out that Rush is a terrible person for using slurs, and insisting on using slurs to do it regardless of who it hurts, even when those people who are being hurt by them tell you to stop.

    Head meets desk a thousand times.

  59. says

    Why should you have suffered in that manner? Why should anybody suffer in that manner?

    Because while I don’t particularly care for being alive, if I have to be alive there is no one I would rather be but me.

    But your comment at #52 doesn’t mention or even hint at abuse from your parents, teachers, or other adults.

    My parents were great, discipline well within the realms of reasonable for the time (ie. I got the occasional (relatively frequent) spankings – sometimes with belt, but not anything that approached socially unacceptable). Teachers much the same. There were issues to be sure, but mostly that was religious in nature. Again, nothing abnormal – except how *I* took it.

    It doesn’t even imply that you were unhappy because you didn’t “fit in.”

    Actually that was a very significant part of it. Not that I didn’t have friends – I did. But I was a lot more comfortable alone, because I didn’t particularly fit in. My only saving grace was that I largely didn’t care what others thought about me.

    And why is your assumption that, without the autism, you would not have the “positive aspects,” by which I assume you mean intellectual gifts? A pervasive developmental disorder is not the same as a mood disorder, but, 20 years ago, I starting hearing the same claims for bipolar disorder: that it brought certain “gifts of creativity.”

    Actually my diagnosis is bipolar disorder and severe attention deficit. I have been around several people with autism, but am not on the spectrum.

    As for why I wouldn’t have the “gifts” I do – I wouldn’t because I wouldn’t be me. While I might well be creative and intelligent, I wouldn’t consider the world the way that I do now. The notion that creativity is creativity is creativity is fucking ridiculous. Of course there are creative and brilliant people who aren’t suffering the way that I do. That doesn’t mean they have the capacity for the same sorts of creativity that I do – just as I don’t have the capacity for what they do.

    The way that my mind works impacts what I can accomplish.

    More importantly, while we can virtually eliminate my suffering entirely, the only way to do so would render me unable to engage in the creative reasoning that I do now. I know this because I have been there – taken those sorts of meds. Ultimately I was more miserable because there was no way I could live like that and actually finish school and have a better life – make a better life for my children.

    I am not, to be clear, suggesting we just sit on our laurels. I am merely saying that we need to balance treatments for mental illness with the right of personhood of people who have mental illness. I am studying neuropsychology because I want to be a part of learning how better strike that balance. But as it stands, neurodiversity is important because neurotypical or not, I believe humans are important and deserve the opportunity to have the best lives possible.

  60. says

    Leni –

    Yes, but one reason he’s a hypocrite is because he is himself, overweight and ridicules overweight people. That’s what justifies calling him a hypocrite.

    Then say just that. Why use “he’s fat” as a slur, if the problem is his hypocrisy, not that he’s fat?

    Yes, he is a hypocrite and I’m happy to say and hear it. But he’s a hypocrite because he’s a fat, drug addict whore.

    That has absolutely nothing to do with you or any one else.

    That has a lot to do with me, because to some degree and another, all those terms apply to me. When you use those terms as a slur, you are validating the idea that all those things make the people they apply to bad people because they apply.

    I understand it isn’t as sexy to say that he’s a hypocrite because he is and/or does these things he disparages others for. But it is accurate and doesn’t disparage everyone else to whom those labels apply.

    Spartan –

    There’s an argument to be made that taken in this specific context, referring to Rush as ‘fat’ doesn’t legitimately add to the stigma.

    If your statement is along the lines of “Rush mocks people for being overweight, having drug problems and being promiscuous – when he himself actually is overweight, has substance abuse problems and is promiscuous…What a hypocritical fucking asshole he is.” then you aren’t perpetuating stigmas. If however, you say “Rush is a fat fucking druggy slut” you are perpetuating stigmas.

    It is all about how these terms are being used and mostly when I see them being used to describe Rush Limbaugh, they are being used as slurs. Not as “Rush is a hypocrite because…” but as “Rush is these things *and* a hypocrite.”

  61. Change says

    Not surprised to find out that the idiot Rush Limbaugh spewed some nonsense on this topic as well.

    From Wikipedia:

    On October 14, 2011, Rush Limbaugh, a political commentator, originally questioned the U.S. move against the LRA on the grounds that “Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians. They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan. And Obama has sent troops, United States troops to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them.” “So that’s a new war, a hundred troops to wipe out Christians in Sudan, Uganda.”

  62. John Horstman says

    So Rush Limbaugh said something vile about someone. That’s apparently news, despite the fact that this is how he’s made his living for the last two decades. After all this time, Limbaugh’s behavior is finally costing him his major corporate sponsorships. Why now?

    I have been wondering exactly this since this blow-up over his comments about Fluke started. I certainly don’t think going after Fluke like that was okay, but I think that to exactly the same degree that I’ve never thought Rush’s shows are okay. Part of me is really hesitant to get behind any of these pushes for Rush to lose sponsors or get shut down, despite the fact that I would have been happy to see that happen at any point over the past two decades, because I’m not entirely sure what’s motivating the present outcry, and I’m somewhat suspicious that there’s an insidious subtext that I can’t quite read (for example, your proposed “unacceptable victim” explanation).

  63. Spartan says

    Thank you Stephanie for being gracious, and always to DuWayne for his insightful input; this stuff has been rattling around in my brain all day, and some of it for months now. It’s only appropriate that I start with:

    In which I am wrong: I have never been overweight. I’m in my mid-40s and am very fortunate, and am in no position to be ignoring what other people who have been targeted derogatorily with the word ‘fat’ say. Even though I can’t help but be skeptical about some things derived from social sciences, my assuming that ‘fat’ can be used casually is, if I’m using the term correctly, privileged bullshit. I’ve perhaps mistakenly assumed that the word is okay in some circumstances like, ‘my cat is fat’, but I realize I’m not the arbiter of that.

    In which I may be trying to make a point that cannot be made: My original point of agreement with leni is that being overweight has a personal responsibility element to it if you are using the standard of Rush’s, along the lines of what Crommunist @3 said concerning drug addiction. To be abundantly clear, I refer only to the health aspect of being overweight, I recognize and acknowledge the existence and repulsiveness of fat shaming. Fine Rush, you don’t want to pay for birth control pills, then using your apparent standard I don’t want to pay for any health-related issues that may develop from your personal choices, which may include the fact you are overweight. (I understand that there are many cases where a person’s weight doesn’t have anything to do with what they do or don’t do, but my understanding is that our current obesity issue in the US is largely a result of what is in the food we eat, the portions, and our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, all of where we do have some choices).

    Where my point goes awry I’d guess is in trying to remove fat-shaming from the equation in the first place. Logically to me it seems that you should be able to discuss whether Rush is being hypocritical with his ‘I don’t want to pay for that slut’s personal choices’ since he is overweight. But given that prevalence of fat shaming, it is too difficult a conversation to parse, and the things I’m comparing may not be close enough to buttress the ‘hypocrite’ connection to even be worth it. That, and IMO fat shaming is a more serious problem than the potential health concerns of being overweight anyway.

  64. Spartan says

    Stephanie @62

    Also, did you really just call fat people who are upset over hearing someone else called fat as a slur “immature”? Tell me you didn’t really just do that.

    I didn’t just do that. I thought I was referring to something you said actually, in your defense of your Dear Dick letter, one of your EG Challenges, specifically something to the effect that if someone thought that you might have been using ‘Dick’ derogatorily like we mean it 90% of the time in the US, you need to grow up. I found the post though, and you do tell someone in the comments to grow up, but there’s more to it than what I misremembered and paraphrased above, I withdraw it.

    But feel free to make an argument that this isn’t actually what “classy” means.

    This point is one I’ve really mulled over a lot and have trouble coming to grips with, although it’s usually with respect to the word ‘bitch’. Yes, ‘classy’ derives from the existence of social classes. Classy in 2012 has more than that meaning however. I agree that intent is not magical, but it is all that matters in 99% of verbal communication, within the bounds of commonly accepted meanings of words. It seems to me that in many situations where you would hear ‘stay classy’, it may well mean as I think you hear it, ‘don’t behave like the lower classes of people’ or it may mean ‘be civilized/couth’. When faced with ambiguous meanings, isn’t clarification usually needed before assuming one, especially if it’s negative? If you’re just saying you don’t like it used on your blog, no argument, but I think you’re saying the more general ‘no one should really use this phrase’.

    Ophelia had provided a linkage to me that may be your perspective also. I had asked her with respect to ‘bitch’ why, in her argument that it is the sexist equivalent of the n-word, she was ignoring several women in the same thread who had said no, they defined it as ‘jerk’ or ‘asshole’, language is complex, and did not think it meant anything sexist towards all women. Specifically because as had already been settled, women are the ones who get to define these words. Ophelia replied that in her view, ‘the misogynist resonance overpowers other potential meanings’. Which was great (even beyond the cool way she phrased it), it linked it all together for me, it was rational and logical from top to bottom, peace at last. I don’t know if you share that view or not. I’m not sure I buy in at this point, it’s a pretty subjective link in her overall argument unfortunately, although I understand the perspective.

  65. Spartan says

    Jason @72,

    Agreed, and I recognize I’m arguing with big generalities. There’ve been other studies I believe that have shown that many overweight people are in better health than those who are not based on how much they exercise, what they eat, etc.

    Stephanie, wow, sorry about the length of those comments. I do appreciate the outlet, and sorry if I abused it.

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